Chanel Haynes

Chanel Haynes, who will make her London stage debut as the alternate Tina, was discovered by Quincy Jones while she was still a teenager, and went on to become an original member and lead singer of the New Orleans-based group, Trin-i-tee 5:7, selling over 2.5 million albums worldwide and earning two Grammy nominations.

At the 2008 Grammy Awards, she was part of the line-up with Trin-i-tee 5:7, which also included performances from Tina Turner, Beyoncé, and Aretha Franklin. She made her musical theatre debut in 2014 at the Zach Theatre in Austin, Texas, where, in 2018, she won the B. Iden Payne Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her role as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Keep The Faith caught up with Chanel to find out more about the Grammy-nominated singer who is playing Tina Turner at the Aldwych Theatre.

Keep The Faith (KTF): What role did faith play in your upbringing?
Chanel Haynes (CH): I am a preacher’s daughter and with that comes great responsibility. I’m pretty sure I attended church five to six times a week from the age of six until I started my recording career at the age of 19. My father is still pastoring in the city of New Orleans, LA. Whenever I visit my home church, I still have to sing a song or two before the congregation.

KTF: Who is the most memorable person you have interviewed/written about/met, and why?
CH: When I was a little girl (about 11 years old) I got the chance to meet Muhammad Ali ‘The Greatest Boxer of All Time’. My Dad was a big fan, so I would watch his classic matches as a child. At this fragile time in my life, I had suffered from low self-esteem, like many young girls. When I walked over to meet him, I gave him a big hug. He then said to the press: “I am surrounded by beauty!” That moment changed me forever, because ‘The Greatest’ saw my beauty before I did…so I thought it had to be true. That was the beginning of a new truth for me.

KTF: Tell me about an accomplishment you consider to be the most significant in your career.
CH: The highest career honours for me are my two Grammy nominations. To share this great honour with my mentor and inspiration, Tina Turner, is one of my greatest pleasures! Being cast to play the iconic Tina Turner is one of the most significant and perhaps the greatest accomplishment I have experienced as an entertainer. When the film, ‘What’s Love Got ToDo With It’ was released, I knew I had to get to know her! I was still in high school, but I decided I wouldn’t stop until I’d got her attention. I studied her, I discovered all our similarities over the years… We are both preachers’ daughters from the ‘South’; sang gospel in the church; dyslexic; have two sons; left California to reinvent ourselves as artists in London in our 40s… the list goes on and on! I think you can see why this is such a significant milestone in my life.

KTF: What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now? 
CH: The thing that brings me the most joy and pleasure is when my two sons, Alexander (3) and Zion (7), climb into bed with their dad and me early in the morning, and we watch cartoons together. It’s those precious moments that give me that focus and strength I need to execute on stage night after night. 

KTF: What is important to you in a church? In the leadership of the church?
CH: It’s important to me that the church leaders show their humanity, and have the courage to say “I don’t know”, when they don’t have the answers. The best response to me is “Let’s find out together.” I find that the greatest leaders are humble, and they don’t fear being flawed; they embrace it, and then learn from their mistakes or misjudgements.

KTF: What are you most passionate about in life and in your work?
CH: I am most passionate about fulfilling my destiny and purpose. I rarely give great attention to situations or persons who do not support the vision God has placed inside my heart. I practise kindness, mercy, and compassion. I am also very discerning, and can tell if I am planting seeds into good soil or into soil that will not produce good fruit. I told you… I’m a preacher’s daughter! Haha!

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical re-opens at the Aldwych Theatre on 5th August 2021.  

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Written by: Janine Shalom

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